Archive for July, 2013

Kneaders French Toast Recipe

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Recipes


Here in Utah we have a delicious cafe called Kneaders Bakery.  They have the most amazing french toast, omelets, sandwiches, salads and homemade desserts.  Whenever I eat at a restaurant and I love their food, it is my quest to find out the recipes and try to reproduce them in my kitchen.

Last year I was in charge of my family's Thanksgiving breakfast.  I decided to make a variety of different breakfast options and one of the main dishes was the glorious Kneaders French Toast!  My family was amazed and raving the entire day about it...I just smiled because it is soooo simple.  You can also make it the night before, so it is the prefect dish for Christmas morning or a special first day of school breakfast!

Kneaders Chunky Cinnamon French Toast

1 loaf Kneaders Chunky Cinnamon Bread cut into 8 thick slices (you can substitute this bread for any type of cinnamon swirl bread recipe)
8 eggs
3 cups milk
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons butter

Butter a 9 x 13 glass baking dish generously. Place the bread flat in the baking dish. Mix all remaining ingredients, reserving the butter.  Dip the bread thoroughly in the egg mixture, then place flat in the baking dish.   Cut butter into pieces and dot over the top. Refrigerate over night or at least one hour.  Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 8.

Kneaders Caramel Syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup light Karo syrup
Blend together and heat on stove top until sugar is smooth. Serve warm.

I like to add fresh strawberries and make homemade whipping cream to make this french toast perfect.  Enjoy!! Your family will love you even more after you make this for them!


{Your Smile} Quote…free download

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Free Printables, Graphic Design

I'm absolutely in love with this quote and I can think of a few special people in my life that I could give it to.  I'm kind of a romantic at heart and I really want everyone to have true, sweet love in their life.  I hope that everyone reading this has a person in their life that does this for them.  Whether it be a spouse, child, lover, or a bum on the street...I say peace, love and happiness to all!

This will print out perfectly on 8x8, 8x10 or 12x12...Download for free below!



Letters To My Lovelies…

Written by Lyndi. Posted in About Me, Free Printables, Graphic Design, Kids & Family Life, Parenting Tips

I have kept a notebook in my drawer that I named "Funny Things My Kids Say".  My girls have their fair share of funny sayings, but this book is mostly full of Max"isms".  He started talking full sentences at 12 months and since then all he talks about are body parts, swear words, telling jokes or asking questions that are so funny, but very inappropriate.  I have absolutely loved looking back at this notebook because I forget so easily all the sweet and funny things that my kids say.

One of my favorite quotes was when Max was barely three, a kid asked him "Why are you black, Max?", and he said without hesitation, "I'm not black, I am brown...why don't you know your colors yet?" He is so clever and witty and he keeps me laughing my ass off! I know that when my kids are all grown up this will be a precious book to look and laugh at.  

Last week I was asked to write a letter to my 12 year old daughter by her church leaders.  I was supposed to write about what my hope was for her future.  I wrote this letter and it made me cry.  It made me realize that I need to put these words down on paper A LOT more.  I've always been encouraged to write in my journal but at this stage in my life I think it is even more important to write to my kids so they can remember their childhood.  Also, if something were to happen to me I would want my kids to have letters from me, to remember how I felt about them, the love I had for them, my words of encouragement and my hope for their lives.  

With some hesitation, I decided to attach a copy of the letter that I wrote to Madison.  I hope it will inspire you to write something like it for your sweet ones.  I know these letters will one day be cherished, so I decided that every Sunday I would write one letter to one of my kids or to another loved one...i will put it in a file box so it will be kept safe, or if they are old enough I will give it to them.

I'm very excited to do this and I hope you will join me in this endeavor!  I have created several labels in a variety of colors to customize a notebook or file box for your specific situation.

Microsoft Word - My Dear Sweet Madsy.docx

I got this great patterned file box, binder and notebooks all from Target...all you need to do is print out your label of choice (5x7 or 4x6), cut it out and put it on.  It it easy, cheap and cute!!

To save the label of your choice,  just right click on the image and hit "save as" and save it to your computer.
filebox lettersletters1letters-gray-turqletters-yellow-blue loveyou letters-babyblue letters-baby pink letters-mustard letters-blue letters-pink  letters-yellow


How to Frost a Cake!

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Recipes

When I was 14 years old, I got my first job at Baskin Robbins.  I totally lied about my age to get it and I'm glad I did because I made some long lasting friendships there.  Plus, I got to eat all the free ice cream that I wanted!  I often think back on that time of my life and I have some very sweet memories.   My first love, my first car, trying to be responsible, trying to make good choices, but also being very dumb at times too.

Besides eating my fair share of ice cream, I learned how to decorate the ice cream cakes.  My boss ended up putting me in charge of making and decorating all of the cakes and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Ever since that time, I have used those skills to create and decorate my own cakes and I just can't seem to stop making, decorating and eating them! Heaven help me!!  I am not a perfectionist, but I do appreciate perfection when it comes to the beauty of a perfectly frosted cake!  

I found this amazing step-by-step guide tutorial  from on how to frost a cake.  These steps are pretty easy and the final product looks amazing!  YUM!  


Offset Spatula(s)
Spoons or knives may cut it when it comes to frosting cupcakes, but these are the way to go when it comes to frosting cakes. They're available in a variety of sizes and shapes, but I think the best two to have in your arsenal are the  8" model  and the  13" one .
Bench Scraper
In my opinion, this is the secret to getting a smooth layer of frosting. With a little practice, this will become one of your favorite tools.
Dishers/Portioners/Ice cream scoops
If you don't have one of these, a large spoon will get the job done, but since I have a few (they're good for portioning cookies), I'm using a  #24 (1 1/3 oz) scoop  today.
I always use a turntable to frost cakes. It's an unnecessary investment if you don't frost cakes with any regularity, but if you do, you'll be so happy if you buy one. Look for them at small cake supply stores - they usually sell them there cheaper than you can find them at craft stores. If you really, really don't want to buy one,  rig one up yourself  like Alton Brown did in Season 6 Episode 15 of  Good Eats .
Non-Slip Pad
Slip one of these under your cake on the turntable and you will thank me, I promise.
Rubber Spatula
I never leave the house without one!
Additional Bowl
You will use this for collecting crumby frosting.
A filled and stacked cake on a stand or cardboard round
Yeah, yeah - I know this and the next point are obvious, but I'm just covering my bases. You've got to frost  something , right? (P.S. I got this cake stand at Home Goods)
Use whichever kind you like - this technique is universal. Feel free to head over to my tutorials for  Swiss Meringue  and  Italian Meringue , if you'd like some help with those, too!

I don't have a photo for the first step, but it's important, so listen up!  Before you begin , you'll want to "deflate" your frosting a little to remove what may become obnoxious air bubbles. To do this, beat you frosting on the lowest speed possible of your stand/hand mixer for about five minutes, then proceed. 

Starting with a stacked cake, drop on a small amount of frosting for your crumb coat. I used 2 scoops from a 1 1/3 oz disher. You don't need too much; this first layer of frosting will be very thin because it just there to hold in crumbs and prevent them from getting in the final coat. 

Press the mound of frosting down and out with your offset spatula, spreading from the center to the edge. You can drag the offset along the top of the cake, but don't scrape it so hard that it tears. 

This whole task is easiest to do if you use a swiveling motion with your wrist; tilting it gently left and right as you spread to more easily maneuver the frosting. This technique might not make much sense when you read it, but I think it's a natural movement. Truthfully though, the most important thing is to make sure that you're comfortable. Do what works for you!

Continue spreading the frosting outward from the top so that it hangs over like this. This is how you will crumb coat the sides.

Using the same swiveling motion, begin spreading the frosting around the sides of the cake. Don't be alarmed if working at this angle feels awkward - it always feels kind of strange. Also, don't worry if dabs of frosting fall off the cake. Just scoop any stray bits up and keep working with them. However, whatever you do,  DO NOT  use your offset spatula, which is surely covered in crumbs, to scoop additional frosting out of its container. If you need more frosting for your crumb coat, use the disher/spoon to put more on top. Once you get crumbs in your frosting, they can be very difficult to get out, so be careful.

Also, if you'd like to scrape the built-up frosting on the back of the spatula off, don't be tempted to do so on the cake's corners (the 90 degree angle consisting of the top and the side). Scrape the spatula on a  separate  empty bowl, then scoop up the residual frosting to add back to the crumb coat, if needed.

Continue working the frosting around the sides of the cake until every inch - from the top to the bottom - is covered. 

Now it's time to thin the frosting, which helps really seal in the crumbs. Start with the top, using your offset to pull frosting from the edge of the cake, over the center and sweep the excess off. Run the underside of your spatula over the edge of a separate bowl (mentioned in step 4), then sweep across the top repeatedly until most of the frosting has been removed.

Use your bench scraper, held at about a 45 degree angle to the cake, to scrape off additional frosting by spinning the turntable toward it. Don't press too hard, which could cut the cake, but press firmly enough that it scrapes some frosting off. Transfer frosting to your designated bowl and set aside.

Congratulations - you've got yourself a crumb-coated cake! Most of the frosting has been removed, leaving you with a nice, thin coat to seal in crumbs and prevent them from bugging you in the next few steps. 

Using your disher, scoop on a pile of frosting. Some people put on what they estimate to be enough to frost the top and bottom of the cake at this stage, but I don't like to do it that way. Seeing that much frosting all at once freaks me out and I always have a problem with it falling off the cake before I've finished applying it. However, that method does work for some people, so I advise you to do whatever makes you comfortable! 

I put on 3 scoops, which I thought would be enough to cover the top of the 6" cake and a little bit over the edges. However, this amount won't be enough for every size of cake, so be sure to adjust accordingly. One thing to learn from the alternate method is that more  is  better for this job, so don't be frightened about piling it on!

Using the same method that you used when you  filled the layers of the cake , flatten out the mound of frosting with your offset spatula and work it out just over the edge (like in step 3), maintaining an even layer of frosting. It can be as thick or thin as you like; just make sure that you can't see the cake beneath it. Turn the turntable while you work, and spread in circular motions to even things out. Don't worry about getting it too perfect at this point because we'll come back to it later. 

Before applying more frosting to the sides, flatten out the overhang. 

After that's done, use a clean rubber spatula to scoop more frosting out of the bowl and  transfer  it to your offset spatula. You can simply scoop with the offset, if you like, but doing so increases the risk that you will get crumbs into your batch of frosting. Gently touch the loaded spatula to the side of the cake and begin spreading, being careful not to sweep your offset outside of the available frosting, which could introduce crumbs. 

I worry about crumbs a lot. Have you noticed?

Continue spreading the frosting around the cake, applying excess frosting around the top rim of the cake which we will be using later to smooth out the top. Begin on the high side of the edge and work your way... the bottom. It doesn't need to be too smooth for now, just try to make sure the coat is fairly even without too many low spots. Also, note the raised edge that I mentioned in the previous step. Make sure that you have this, or it will be difficult to smooth out the top later. If you've forgotten, add it at any time by applying small dabs of frosting to the top edge. 

Ok, you're in the home stretch! The cake doesn't need to be any smoother than this at this point, and it would be just fine if it was messier. The next few steps will even everything else out. 

This is the trick to a smooth cake: the humble bench scraper! You'll use it just as you did before (by holding it still at about a 45 degree angle and turning the turntable toward it), but this time you have to be very much in control of the pressure you're applying so you don't leave marks. Keep your hand very steady and still, and remember that you aren't necessarily trying to remove the frosting, you just want to even it out. Be sure that the bench scraper is perpendicular to the stand so that your cake isn't at all conical.

This step takes practice, but don't be discouraged. Keep at it! After two or three sweeps all the way around, move on to the next step. 

Ok, so you've probably noticed that there are some uneven spots on your cake. Don't worry - you haven't done anything wrong! Use a  CLEAN, DRY  offset spatula to apply small amounts of frosting to the low spots, then use a  CLEAN, DRY  bench scraper to re-smooth. 

After you are satisfied with the edges of your cake, move on to the task of smoothing the top. Use a longer spatula, if you like, but this 8" one is what I was comfortable with for a cake this size. Place your spatula just beyond the side furthest from you at about a 45 degree angle, aligning the bottom edge with what you estimate to be the height of the inner layer of frosting...

... And scrape the frosting toward you, sweeping off when you get to the center of the cake. Clean your offset spatula. 

Repeat this technique around all sides of the cake, cleaning the spatula each time, sweeping the last raised edge into the center, just as before. 

Professionals would probably tell you to stop there. However, sometimes I'll add a  little  more frosting on top and spread it thinly over any imperfections, being very careful not to sweep it over the edges. But really, if there are a few marks on the top (or sides) it's not a huge deal!

Guess what? YOU'RE DONE! Continue decorating the cake any way you like or just leave it as is. 

Don't stress yourself out over getting the frosting  just so . If you start getting frustrated with it, stop and remind yourself that you're doing this for fun. Who cares if it's perfect? It's a cake. You're just going to eat it, anyway!


Decorating Your Mantel

Written by Lyndi. Posted in Interior Design

decoratingamantle upclose family room wall

When starting to decorate your mantel, it’s best to begin by taking everything down and start with a fresh palette.  A very important key that I like to tell my clients is if you don't absolutely love a certain decor piece, do not feel obligated to use it.  I would rather see an empty space than see a piece of decor that doesn't excite me!

 Simple tricks to start your mantel decor

1. One big piece in the center: Begin in the center and choose something that is of a substantial size, maybe a mirror or artwork that you love.  This will be the main focal point of the mantel.
2. Movement: Choose items that “move” the eye.  Whether it be candles which move from the flickering flame or items of varying heights which make the eye move up and down, include accessories that are intriguing and add vision interest.
3. Visual Weight: A secondary focal point that isn’t as big, but still gives a punch, is a great addition to a mantel ensemble.  When pulling together a mantel, it’s best to layer one piece in front of another.  Choosing a vase with flowers or branches that will sit in front of your “big piece” starts the layering effect.
4. Layering: Whether it be art, photos, candles, or accessories, layering and staggering different sized items in front of each other is a must to create a cohesive composition.
5. Vary Heights: Along with layering, adding accessories of varying heights is more visually engaging.  It helps the eye move up and down and across. 

I also think it important to put an item on your mantel that warms your heart when you see it...a few ideas are: a photo of your family, your family motto, a special souvenir from a memorable vacation, or a quote that gives you inspiration.

I decorated this mantel with things that I purchased from Z Gallerie (one of my all time favorite stores) and HomeGoods. 


©Copyright 2013 - Ellie Bean Design, LLC